TODAY'S TOP STORY: Apple yesterday announced it is cutting the commission it charges on in-app purchases from 30% to 15% for small businesses. The move comes as major app operators like Spotify and Fortnite-maker Epic fight what they sometimes dub the 'Apple tax' through lobbying and legal efforts. Neither companies will benefit from this discount, which Spotify dubbed "window dressing" and Epic called a "calculated move"... [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES Apple cuts commission on in-app purchases for small businesses - Spotify and Epic are not impressed
LEGAL Wixen sues Triller for copyright infringement
DEALS Scalping sign to Houndstooth
LABELS & PUBLISHERS Warner revamps its partnership with the Artist Partner Group
MEDIA Eurovision performers to pre-record performances as insurance against COVID restrictions
GIGS & FESTIVALS The Great Escape announces first 50 acts for 2021 edition
ONE LINERS Pat Metheny, Blackstar London, Round Hill Music, more
AND FINALLY... Tool selling signed kitchen sink for charity
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A ten step guide to the collective licensing system
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Apple cuts commission on in-app purchases for small businesses - Spotify and Epic are not impressed
Apple yesterday announced it is cutting the commission it charges on in-app purchases from 30% to 15% for small businesses. The move comes as major app operators like Spotify and Fortnite-maker Epic fight what they sometimes dub the 'Apple tax' through lobbying and legal efforts. Neither companies will benefit from this discount, which Spotify dubbed "window dressing" and Epic called a "calculated move".

Companies like Spotify and Epic object less to Apple charging a commission when it processes payments, and more to the fact that when you make an iOS app you are obliged to use Apple's payment processing platform, and aren't even allowed to sign-post users to alternative payment options, for example via an app-maker's own website. Those policies, Spotify and Epic argue, are anti-competitive.

Spotify took its beef with Apple over the App Store policies public in March last year, filing a complaint with the European Commission's competition regulator and launching a public-facing website setting out its grievances.

Epic ramped up its anti-Apple tax efforts earlier this year by breaking the rules and adding an alternative payment option in the Fortnite iOS app. When Apple then removed said app from its store, Fortnite sued in the US courts and launched a major Apple-dissing publicity campaign seeking to rally support from Fortnite's userbase.

With the Small Business Program announced by Apple yesterday, companies that make less than $1 million a year from their iOS apps will be charged a 15% commission instead of the 30% commission. The tech giant said the scheme was launching at "an important time as small and independent developers continue working to innovate and thrive during a period of unprecedented global economic challenge".

Apple boss Tim Cook added: "Small businesses are the backbone of our global economy and the beating heart of innovation and opportunity in communities around the world. We're launching this programme to help small business owners write the next chapter of creativity and prosperity on the App Store, and to build the kind of quality apps our customers love".

Not so, reckon Spotify and Epic. They have both hit out at Apple's announcement, which they see as a cynical bid to divide the app-making community, so to distract attention from what - Spotify and Epic would argue - is Apple's ongoing and blatant abuse of the monopoly it has over the iOS ecosystem.

"This would be something to celebrate were it not a calculated move by Apple to divide app creators and preserve their monopoly on stores and payments, again breaking the promise of treating all developers equally", Epic CEO Tim Sweeney told reporters. "By giving special 15% terms to select robber barons like Amazon, and now also to small indies, Apple is hoping to remove enough critics that they can get away with their blockade on competition and 30% tax on most in-app purchases".

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Spotify was just as dismissive. "Apple's anti-competitive behaviour threatens all developers on iOS, and this latest move further demonstrates that their App Store policies are arbitrary and capricious", they said. "We hope that regulators will ignore Apple's 'window dressing' and act with urgency to protect consumer choice, ensure fair competition, and create a level playing field for all".

As Apple was announcing its big commission discount for small businesses, Epic was extending its legal assault against the tech giant. Having already sued over the Apple tax in the US, the gaming firm filed new litigation in relation to the dispute in the Australian courts.

Epic argues that Apple's App Store policies breach Australian consumer rights law. Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald, Sweeney declared: "Apple has said they have the legal right to do whatever the hell they want because they make the devices. Under Apple's legal theory they could charge 90%. The very notion that they're standing on is antithetical to free markets and competition".


Wixen sues Triller for copyright infringement
Music publisher Wixen has sued Triller over allegedly unlicensed songs that appear in the TikTok-rivalling video-sharing app. The publisher argues that rather than paying the songwriters whose works it controls, the Triller company prioritises mega-bucks deals with 'social influencers'.

Although it's been around for a few years, Triller has really gained momentum this year, in part by capitalising on the political woes of TikTok, especially in the US.

The app has licensing deals and partnerships with various music companies, including the majors, but is by no means completely covered, especially on the songs side. Which is something that the boss of the US National Music Publishers Association, David Israelite, noted earlier this year as Triller started to significantly expand its userbase and raise new investment.

And that's something Wixen notes in its lawsuit. "Triller is well aware that it needs to negotiate licences with Wixen and other publishers", it states. "The President and CEO of the National Music Publishers Association, a trade group to which Wixen belongs, criticised Triller for not fully licensing NMPA members' songs, stating that 'Triller's popularity is largely based on music. It boasts 'millions of songs at your fingertips', however many of those songs have not been properly licensed'".

The lawsuit then cites an interview with Triller CEO Mike Lu in which he acknowledged Israelite's remarks and added "our lawyers spoke to him right after that article came out, and we hope to come to an agreement very soon - because we've already started working with some of the publishers [who are members of] NMPA. Our goal is to work with all of them".

But not as yet, it should be noted, Wixen. "Triller could have reached out and negotiated with Wixen to obtain the necessary licences, as its CEO promised. Instead, it chose to brazenly disregard copyright law and commit willful and ongoing copyright infringement. Among the evidence of Triller's willfulness is that it continued to use, copy, and exploit [our] works even after Wixen notified Triller that it had not obtained the proper licences for the use of the works".

Later referencing the recent deals Triller has done to headhunt TikTok influencers, the publisher's lawsuit goes on: "Triller's CEO claims that 'Triller puts artists and creators first, and our goal is to create an ecosystem where everyone can benefit'. However, rather than pay Wixen and the songwriters Wixen represents to use their works, Triller pays 'social influencers' substantial sums of money and provides them with Rolls Royces, mansions (with housekeeping), weekly sushi dinners at Nobu, and, in at least one instance, a helicopter".

With all that in mind, Wixen is seeking statutory damages in relation to all the songs that it controls that appear on the Triller platform, which the publisher says is likely to be "well over a thousand". Remember, under US law, a court can award a copyright owner $150,000 in statutory damages per infringed work. Which means the outcome of this will presumably be a licensing deal between Triller and Wixen rather than an actual court battle. But we'll see.


Scalping sign to Houndstooth
Scalping have announced that they have signed to Houndstooth, proving it with new single, 'Deadlock'. Confirming their new deal with the CMU approved act, Houndtooth's Rob Butterworth and Rob Booth say in a statement: "Scalping are the most exciting new band on the planet, we couldn't be happier that they've signed to Houndstooth".

Commenting on the new single, the band say: "'Deadlock' has been in our live set for over a year now and it's always a highlight; it's fierce, relentless and gets a great reaction whenever we play it".

"The first versions of this song were based around a one bar synth loop that ran for the duration, it gave us a lot of space to improvise and play with the dynamics and structure live, to push and pull off both each other and the crowd", they go on. "The energy coming back off the audience always has a huge impact on how we perform but it was particularly noticeable with this song, it would feel very different every night as we'd each be trying out different things".

They continue: "With us not being able to play it live for the foreseeable it felt like the perfect time to record a definitive version of the song. After coming off tour we finalised and recorded this version of 'Deadlock' at the start of the year, before lockdown, split between our homes in Bristol and Rockfield Studios in Wales".

Watch the video for 'Deadlock' here.


Warner revamps its partnership with the Artist Partner Group
Warner Music in the US has revamped its partnership with Mike Caren's Artist Partner Group. Under the new deal, artists currently signed to APG via its partnership with Warner's Atlantic Records will formally become part of the Atlantic US roster. Caren's company will continue to sign new artists and maintain a Warner connection by working with its label services division ADA, though will seemingly not be obliged to distribute its future releases with the major.

Warner has been involved in APG - a sister company to Caren's older Artist Publishing Group - since its launch in 2012, with Caren also having an A&R role at the major. The revamp of the partnership provides a boost to Atlantic's roster, which will now directly release music from the likes of YoungBoy Never Broke Again, Kevin Gates and Charlie Puth. Meanwhile, APG will presumably have more flexibility in terms of distribution partners, while still have an ongoing tie-up with Warner via ADA.

Announcing all that, Caren says: "This is an exciting new chapter for Artist Partner Group and the amazing roster of artists we have worked with over the last eight years. I am thankful to the entire APG and Atlantic teams and all of the incredible talent that continually inspire us. I look forward to the ongoing growth and success of all of our partners and to continuing to build Artist Partner as a home to artists in the evolving market landscape".

Meanwhile, Warner's recorded music chief Max Lousada adds: "This move evolves and updates a hugely successful partnership. Artist Partner's existing roster of diverse, original voices will now be backed by the full power of Atlantic Records' creative expertise and worldwide reach, while Artist Partner and its new signings will have access to our global network and comprehensive menu of artist services".


Eurovision performers to pre-record performances as insurance against COVID restrictions
Organisers of the Eurovision Song Contest have announced plans to ensure that the 2021 edition of the show will go ahead "no matter what". The key to this will be pre-recorded performances that will be aired in the event that any contestant is unable to travel to Rotterdam for the contest itself.

The 2020 edition of Eurovision was cancelled, of course, due to social distancing and travel restrictions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was later announced that more flexibility would be introduced into the event's rules, to cope with the possibility that the pandemic would still be an issue in May next year, and any other future global crisis.

One early suggestion of a rule change was to drop the requirement for backing vocals to be performed live, allowing contestants to travel with smaller delegations. Now plans have been put in place to allow contestants to remain in the contest even if they are unable to travel at all.

Every contestant will pre-record a performance of their song in their home country, which will be aired in place of a live performance at the contest should they be unable to attend on the night. To ensure fairness, these pre-taped performances will be subject to strict rules.

"All the participating broadcasters have been asked to record a live performance of their act in their own country", say organisers. "This recording will be delivered prior to the event and will take place in a studio setting. The recording will take place in real-time (as it would be at the contest) without making any edits to the vocals or any part of the performance itself after the recording".

Performances can use "similar technical possibilities and dimensions" as would be available in Rotterdam, but must not contain any "augmented or virtual reality, overlays, confetti, drone shots, water, use of chromakey or green screen".

Technical plans for the recording must be submitted prior to it taking place, and each will be observed remotely by Eurovision's Executive Supervisor Martin Österdahl and a representative from independent voting observer E&Y. The recording will have a 60 minute window in which to be completed, and performers will be allowed a maximum of three takes. It will also not be permitted for the performance to be aired anywhere prior to the show.

The decision to allow pre-recorded performances follows the announcement in September of four possible scenarios for the 2021 event: a normal Eurovision Song Contest; a socially distanced contest; a contest with travel restrictions; and a contest in full lockdown.

Pre-recording performances will allow the show to continue even in the latter two possible situations, which could include no performers being able to attend the live show in Rotterdam. Although organisers say that it is currently most likely that the show will go ahead with social distancing in place.

And whatever happens, organisers insist that there is no possibility that the show will be cancelled again, saying: "There will definitely be a Eurovision Song Contest in 2021 and three shows on 18, 20 and 22 May 2021, from which a winner will be chosen. What these shows will look like will be determined in the coming months".


Approved: Kwaye
Releasing his first new music since 2018 debut EP 'Love & Affliction', Kwaye makes a bold and exciting return with new single 'Run'. Boiling a diverse range of influences - including synth-pop, R&B and rock - down to a slick piece of pop with an almighty chorus, his lyrics also draw on the past to comment on the now.

"'Run' is an experience lived by many of our brothers around the world - it is the dichotomy of walking your truth as a human being, and negotiating your survival as a black man", he says. "The turbulent nature of 2020 has caused many of us to reflect on our own individual worlds - what they need, how they feel, and where they sit within the ever-changing world we all share".

"In this time I realised how far I'd strayed from the things that make up who I am, and began to address the battles that have long needed resolving", he continues. "The first is 'Run': Freedom v Duty. From family and community to loyalty and expectations, this song captures the beauty and the complexity of that internal conflict".

Now releasing through his own label Mangwana, this is a new start for Kwaye, with more new music set for release in the coming months. Watch the video for 'Run' here.

Stay up to date with all of the artists featured in the CMU Approved column by subscribing to our Spotify playlist.

The Great Escape announces first 50 acts for 2021 edition
The Great Escape has announced the first 50 acts that will play its 2021 edition next May. Details have also been announced about The Road To The Great Escape, special showcasing events taking place in Dublin and Glasgow in the week ahead of the main festival in Brighton.

Among the artists set to play what will be a belated fifteenth anniversary edition of the showcase festival are Arlo Parks, Holly Humberstone, Berwyn, Pa Salieuand AMA, 220 Kid and Bree Runway. As always, the showcases will take place in venues across Brighton, alongside the TGE Conference for music industry delegates, the core strands of which are programmed by CMU Insights.

The Road To The Great Escape shows will take place in Glasgow on 8 and 9 May, and in Dublin on 10 and 11 May, with TGE itself kicking off in Brighton on 12 May. The fifteenth anniversary celebrations that will be a key part of the programme should have taken place this year, of course, but the COVID-19 shutdown meant that the 2020 edition of the festival could not go ahead.

Looking ahead to 2021, TGE organisers say: "With development of the first two vaccines as well as the roll-out of government trials for mass testing and tracing, The Great Escape is confident that a full capacity event can be achieved. Through a mix of vaccine and testing, as well as trial events, the festival will be ready and eager to safely welcome people back to live music".

Full details of the 50 acts announced today are here.



Jazz guitarist Pat Metheny has signed his first record deal for two decades with BMG imprint Modern Recordings. "The quest that Modern Recordings is undertaking intersects perfectly with the kind of musician that I aspire to be", he says. "I am so excited to be able to continue the research under the auspices of this excellent team of people who love music without boundaries in the same way that I do".

Concord Music Publishing has signed songwriter and producer Bizness Boi. "It feels great to have signed with Concord Music Publishing", he says. "I believe I'll have a lot of success with the Concord team for many years to come".



Marketing agency Blackstar London has hired Ben Tipple as Content Strategist, overseeing the in-house creative team and content production. He was previously at Ticketmaster. "I'm THRILLED to be taking on the opportunity to lead Blackstar's brilliant creative team and to direct creative across multiple verticals within a company who focus not only on the world's most exciting artists, but place importance on the world around them through environmental and social impact", he says.



Just like you always wanted, Lil Yachty has recorded a new version of the 'Saved By The Bell' theme tune. Why? Because a reboot of the classic 90s sitcom will be airing in the US next week.

Marina has released new single 'Man's World'. The track sees the musician work with an entirely female creative team, including producer Jenn Decilveo and engineer Emily Lazar.

Ray BLK has released new single 'Lovesick'. "It's about taking control and reclaiming your power after being disrespected in a relationship and getting even", she says. "I'm always trying to empower women not to take disrespect sitting down but to keep a distance from people who don't make them feel good about themselves and boss up because success is the best revenge. It's a big theme of not just this song but my overall debut album". Debut album? Yes, that's out in 2021.

Geri Horner has released new solo single 'Man On The Mountain'.

Biig Piig has released new single 'Feels Right'. She explains: "'Feels Right' is a track about the energy of a night out. I miss going out so much. The feeling of letting go and being surrounded by sweaty people; meeting strangers and one-night romances; the tunes and ecstasy. Feel like pure shit, just want her back".

Girl In Red has released new single 'Two Queens In A King Sized Bed'. The track, she says, is about "reminiscing about a Christmas I had with a person I love. When laying in bed glued to their body didn't feel close enough. When we wanted every second to last forever".

Yves Tumor has released the video for 'Kerosene' from his latest album 'Heaven To A Tortured Mind'.

Devin Townsend has released new single 'Precious Sardine'. "It's about Sardines or something… I'm not entirely sure", he says.

JFDR has announced that her new EP, 'Dream On', will be out on 27 Nov. From it, this is 'Drifter'.

Octo Octa has released new single 'River'.

T Evann has released new single 'Clearer'. The song, he says, is about "seeing the importance of creative breaks and how it can develop and improve productivity".

Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.


Tool selling signed kitchen sink for charity
Kitchens are nice, but everyone's got one. They literally just get built into houses without anyone even asking. How do you make yours stand out from all the others? A big fridge? It's been done. 10,000 spoons and no knives? Too 1996. How about installing a sink signed by all four members of Tool? Now that's gonna be a talking point!

It might seem like a bit of daft entry in an otherwise bog standard rock n roll memorabilia auction, but you'll note that we're not talking about any of the other 787 items up for sale next month at auction house Julien's. The rest is all signed-guitar this and dress-worn-at-an-awards-ceremony that. Boring. And they'll add no value to your property either.

Julien's don't seem to think the Tool sink is all that weird, either. The description just blandly explains it's "a kitchen sink signed by the members of Tool". Doesn't even add a ¯\(ツ)/¯.

That's because it's totally valid. All proceeds from the sale will also be going to the Ronnie James Dio Stand Up And Shout Cancer Fund, so it's for a good cause. The auction house estimates a sale price of $500-700, but I think that underestimates the true value of this item. Think of the boost it will give your dinner parties!

"Oh, what's that in your sink?"

"Only the signatures of all four members of Tool!"


"Oh, come on! Only the greatest and almost certainly the most influential progressive metal band of the last, well, probably ever".

"I'm more of a Radio 2 person, myself".

"For fuck's sake, who even invited you?"

See? These are the kind of conversations you could be having for a relatively low outlay and the minor inconvenience of not being able to actually run water through your sink anymore. It's a two bowl sink but both sides have been signed, before you get any ideas. Wash those away and your ticket to kitchen glory is gone.

You can flick through the full auction catalogue here (the sink is on page 259, nothing else is worth your time). Meanwhile, here's a video of Tool drummer Danny Carey playing 'Pneuma' live, because, I don't know, I've just been trying to make everyone watch it recently. Remember when you could go out and see bands live instead of just sobbing into your sink of an evening? No, me neither.


ANDY MALT | Editor
Andy heads up the team, overseeing the CMU Daily, website and Setlist podcast, managing social channels, reporting on artist and business stories, and writing the CMU Approved column.
[email protected] (except press releases, see below)
CHRIS COOKE | Co-Founder & MD
Chris provides music business coverage, writing key business news and CMU Trends. He also leads the CMU Insights consultancy unit and the CMU:DIY future talent programme, as well as heading up CMU publisher 3CM UnLimited.
[email protected] (except press releases, see below)
SAM TAYLOR | Commercial Manager
Sam oversees the commercial side of the CMU media, leading on sales and sponsorship, and also heads up business development at CMU Insights and CMU:DIY.
[email protected] or call 020 7099 9060
CARO MOSES | Co-Publisher
Caro helps oversee the CMU media as a Director of 3CM UnLimited, as well as heading up the company's other two titles ThisWeek London and ThreeWeeks Edinburgh, and supporting other parts of the business.
[email protected]
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